On the 1st of February, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the budget for 2022. In the last two years, the government has made some groundbreaking changes in the education sector, raising expectations for the budget this year.
In the last year’s budget, the emphasis was on the National Education Policy (NEP) passed by the union cabinet in 2020. According to the NEP, the gross enrolment ratio for higher education which is currently 27.1 percent will be 50 percent by the year 2030.
This year experts believe that there should be a focus on the development of the EdTech sector. The importance of online education has increased in the last few years. In all the educational establishments, both private and public, online classes have been unanimously regarded as the most effective and efficient method for remote learning. More investment will be needed in the “Phygital” infrastructure, a new term for the process of virtual learning.
Let’s look at some key points the experts want to be included in the budget.
Expenditure on the Education Sector should be 6 percent of the GDP
According to the Kothari commission of 1964, the expenditure on education should be 6 percent of the GDP. The NEP also mentions the same. However, according to the Economic Survey of 2020-21, the expenditure on the budget was just 3.5 percent.
“As incomes measured by GDP per capita are increasing around the world, so are the global resources spent on education in absolute terms. NEP 2020 is a welcome step by the center. But the finance minister needs to double down the education budget to increase the public investment from 3 to 6 percent of GDP at the earliest,” says Prashant Jain, CEO of Oswaal Books.
More focus on digital infrastructure
Lockdowns affected more than 250 million students in the country. An abrupt shift towards online classes took place. This demand requires immediate infrastructural support, as the shift in paradigm has impacted rural students who do not have access to basic tools such as laptops and wireless connections.
Moreover, the faculties are still not completely familiar with the process of online classes and need training. It has been observed that online teaching is ineffective with the conventional approach.
The National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021 reported that students were struggling to understand basic concepts via online classes.
Reduction of GST
The GST on educational services should be reduced to 5 percent which will help in reducing the cost of services provided by the EdTech startups. This will make the services accessible to a larger section of students. “As publishers, we would urge the government to reduce GST on the printing of books and related raw material to 5 percent and remove the reverse charge on royalty payments to authors”, said Monica Malhotra Kandhari, MD, MBD Group.